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Feb. 8, 2019 – The president of the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) is quoted in a new video that exposes China’s environmentally destructive policy of forcing Tibetan nomads off their land.
The video from Seeker Media, which is posted on Animal Planet’s Facebook page and on MSN.com, focuses on the Changtang (Chinese: Qiangtang) National Nature Reserve in the northern Tibetan plateau. It adds to the growing number of revelations about how the Chinese government is removing Tibetan nomads from the lands they’ve tended for hundreds of years—even though scientists agree their stewardship is essential for protecting the environment.
“Nomadic farming techniques have helped preserve Tibet’s grasslands for centuries,” the video text says, “but now officials want regional cattle farmers to relocate to nearby Lhasa,” Tibet’s capital city.
China’s migration plan for the area has forced out more than 1,100 Tibetans, according to a Chinese state media report from 2018.
In 2017, the Chinese government announced plans to relocate about 130,000 people over the next three years.
For seven decades, China has occupied Tibet, a historically independent country, and ruled over it with an iron fist.
As a result of China’s reckless development policies, the fragile environment in Tibet has suffered immeasurable damage. Because of climate change, Tibet is now warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the world.
The Chinese government’s actions in the area of the nature reserve—which is home to tens of thousands of Tibetan antelopes, Tibetan wild donkeys and wild yaks—are implemented with a top-down approach without meaningful consultation with the Tibetan people and will likely only make the situation worse.
Destroying Tibetan identity
Chinese officials claim removing the nomads will help protect the animals in the reserve.
In reality, these efforts to remove Tibetan nomads from their ancestral land are part of a systematic push by Chinese leaders to eliminate Tibetans’ unique cultural identity in order to help maintain China’s iron grip on Tibet and continue exploiting Tibet’s resources.
“The Chinese government…falsely portrays these efforts as aimed at preserving Tibet’s environment,” ICT President Matteo Mecacci is quoted saying in the video, “while it is crystal clear that the biggest threats to Tibet’s fragile ecosystem is certainly not posed by Tibetan nomads, but by Beijing development policies.”
Need for Tibetan self-determination
The video’s footage from inside Tibet is rare, given how the Chinese government almost never allows foreign media to travel freely in Tibet.
The video demonstrates how much better off Tibet’s environment would be under the care of the Tibetan people, rather than the Chinese government.
The video mentions that illegal poaching in the 1980s and 90s decimated the population of chiru— Tibetan antelopes—which are an endangered species. But “[a]fter a massive effort by the indigenous Tibetans and [the World Wild Fund for Nature] to save them, they are flourishing once again,” the video text says.
“The evidence in the Seeker video is clear,” ICT Vice President Bhuchung K. Tsering said. “The Chinese government’s policies have been highly detrimental to Tibet’s landscapes and traditional way of life, whereas the Tibetan people have proven themselves to be uniquely qualified to preserve their own ecosystem. Thus, the international community must help the people of Tibet attain self-determination and put a stop to China’s environmental destruction.”